I did my last century today prior to Ride the Rockies. I felt tired last week so I actually rode less and easier-and it worked! Another example of the importance of recovery.
The century I did is in the NC mountains but is really flat-only about 4000 ft of climbing. I've done it 3 times and every time I finished in under 5 hours. The trick is to work hard early to stay with the lead group for at least 15 miles until the course smoothes out and it's easier to hang with the group.
There were 900 riders so it's important to stay near the front to avoid crashes. I was so close to the front I found myself leading the 900 riders after about 5 miles!
However staying with the front group was harder work today. My Heart Rate was way too high. I saw it hit 180+ and my max is 194. After a number of miles I started getting that quesy feeling you get after too much exertion. Since having to take 3 months off getting my Aerobic fitness back has been the biggest challenge.
So I backed off and rode with some other groups where I could keep the heart rate more manageable.
I wore my 50+ bike kit and got LOTs of comments.